Restaurant tour in Jackson Heights to help local businesses and food pantry

Photo from the Elmhurst Food Crawl June 2021 (Photos courtesy of Homecoming)

August 30, 2021 By Ryan Songalia

A community-led group will be showcasing the region’s culinary diversity next month with a guided take-out restaurant tour – with part of the proceeds going to a local food pantry.

Attendees will sample the culinary offerings of the Jackson Heights neighborhood on a tour that spans less than a mile.

The restaurant tour, the second offered by Homecoming – a newly formed organization made up of first- and second-generation immigrants with a passion for food and community connection – will take place on Sunday, September 19, with hour-long tours offered at from noon to 5 p.m.

Dishes on offer include Indian, Burmese, Pakistani and Colombian cuisine, with a vegetarian tour offered for the first time.

Bryan Lozano, one of the founders of Homecoming, says the restaurant choices were inspired by community feedback as well as Queens-based food writer Joe DiStefano.

Lozano points out that Jackson Heights is home to a significant number of restaurant workers, and partnering with local restaurants is one way to show those workers their support.

“While these restaurants represent only a portion of the incredible array of dining options in Jackson Heights, we believe they embody the community spirit and cuisines this neighborhood has to offer,” Lozano said.

Elmhurst Food Crawl (Photos courtesy of Homecoming)

The tour starts at the Indian restaurant Himalayan Yak with Momos of beef or vegetables.

This will then be followed by a stop at Myanmar’s Yun Cafe & Asian Mart for Mohinga, a rice noodle and fish soup, or the tea leaf soup option.

Next stop will be Al Naimat Sweets & Restaurant for some assorted Pakistani sweets, followed by a stop at the Tong food truck to try the popular Indian fuchka.

The crawl will then end at the Arepa Lady, where participants can taste the Colombian cornmeal cakes that gave the establishment its name.

The venue for the tour is yet to be determined, but Lozano expects it to be near the Himalayan Yak.

Homecoming held their first restaurant tour on June 5 in Elmhurst, the neighborhood where Lozano grew up after immigrating from the Philippines at the age of 3.

A total of 145 people participated in this event. Tickets were $60, with $15 of the proceeds benefiting New Life Pantry.

Tickets for the upcoming Jackson Heights crawl are $65, including $16 for the Community Centers Services Organization Corp., a Jackson Heights-based organization that distributes groceries every Monday in Travers Park.

Each hourly round is limited to 25 people, and the only remaining slots are between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. For the vegetarian crawl, the 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. time slots are sold out, and only the 2 p.m. slot still has tickets available.

The afternoon will end with a free public concert of classical music presented by Music for Food, an organization where musicians volunteer their time to raise money for pantries. The concert will likely take place on the open streets or near 34th Avenue.

Tickets for the Jackson Heights Restaurant Takeout Tour can be purchased here. The public can also make a direct donation to the Pantry by clicking here.

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